Rough terrain creates challenges for Smokies crews searching for Blount County teen

TOWNSEND (WATE) – A remote back-country area, downed trees and lacking maintained trails are only some of the challenges in searching for missing teen Austin Bohanan.

It’s been a week since he was last seen.

“The searchers have been out in the daylight hours doing everything they can to comb through this area,” said Dana Soehn, spokesperson for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Five teams of four to five people searched through trenches and terrain on Friday across 6,700 remote acres for any sign of Bohanan.

Previous story: Crews continue to search for missing teen in Smokies

“All of this terrain is very challenging and steep,” Soehn said. “You can imagine if you were here at night what the conditions would be, so it’d be easy to find yourself in harm’s way if you came across one of these small cliffs lose your footing and get hurt pretty easily in this kind of area.”

Austin Bohanan (source: family)

Coordinated search efforts have been underway since Monday even rescue dog teams were called in to assist with search efforts. Still, there has been no significant leads that point to Bohanan’s whereabouts.

The 18-year-old was hiking off-trail when he went missing, adding even more hurdles for the people trying to bring him to safety.

“There was a 2011 tornado that came through this area so you can still see evidence in some of the sections that they’re searching with a lot of blow downs choking up those drainages,” Soehn said. “They are meticulously climbing over and under those challenges, doing everything they can to search for Austin.”

There are a number of factors that are giving searchers hope: plenty of available water from creeks and steady temperatures that have not dropped below 60 degrees.

“Thankfully this is a healthy, 18-year-old, strong young man, so we are incredibly hopeful that we are going to have a good outcome,” Soehn said. “Each day that we can get out here and search gives us hope.”


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